Stitches '06: Prelude
Stitches '06: Who I Saw

Stitches '06: What I Learned

Nordic Color Interlay
Double cast-on ala Nancy Bush
Why Interlay is faster than embroidering



My first class on Thursday afternoon, and it was a great one to be the first. Simple knitting, a new technique that saves time, a bonus of a cast-on that creates a really pretty decorative edge, a lesson in Estonian history, and plenty of time to work on the swatch. This was the first of two classes that I took with Nancy Bush, and I highly recommend them. The pictures are of some samples she passed around and of the cast-on I learned. My swatch is not suitable for viewing.

Beautiful Beaded Borders
Difference between knitted CO and cable CO
Beading – pre-strung and placed
Slip-stitch cuffs
CO picot edging

I don't have any photos from this class because the items she passed around are for a yet-to-be-published book and because I was too busy knitting. Lots of info in this one, and I think it should be an all-day class. The smocking was really cool, and I had a great idea for a shawl in my head, until I saw exactly what I was thinking of at Tess's Yarns. Great minds and all. Candace Eisner-Strick is a hoot, and if you haven't seen her Merging Yarns collection and patterns, check them out. Really pretty, even if the colors are a little strong for me to wear.

Intarsia in the Round
Double cast-on ala Beth Brown-Reinsel

This was the class that I was the most nervous about. It wasn't until we were registered and the homework was mailed out that I saw that it stated, "Experience with Stranding and Intarsia REQUIRED." And I had none. Beth Brown-Reinsel was going to smell my fear. As it turned out, it was an easy technique and I did OK. My swatch isn't worth showing, but I do have a new pattern for fingerless gloves if I want to make them. Beth is a sweetie, the kind of woman I'd want to hang out and knit and drink tea and talk about old boyfriends with. This was the first of two classes that I had with her, and I'd take more.

Norwegian Mittens

Yes, the stranding that I was supposed to know the day before. But I'd read several references and pretty much understood the technique. But, as you'd expect, reading about and doing are two separate and very different things. My mitten looks horrible, but I know everything that I'm doing wrong and how to fix it, so expect to see some mittens suitable for viewing in the near future.

Estonian Lace
Estonian bind-off


Nancy brought mountains of Estonian lace patterned shawls and wraps to show us. I got to see up close the Lily of the Valley Pattern that I want to do in the Fiddlesticks shawl of the same name. But what really got me excited was this:

Dscn3402Madli's Shawl. THE Madli's Shawl. From the first knitting magazine I bought right after I learned to knit. The pattern that made me think, "I want to do THAT." The pattern that drove me to learn all kinds of new stitches and lace patterns so that someday I could attempt it. I did at one point, but I really hadn't been knitting long enough and couldn't tell a stitch from a yarn-over on the needle and was pretty lost. I'm going to try it again. Really, really, soon. Holding this shawl was pretty cool.

I am a slow knitter.
Seriously. I even had Beth give me extra homework for the mitten class because I was so far behind in the intarsia class. And then I did it on the wrong needles anyway. I’d be half-way through a swatch and everyone around me would be finishing up. I wasn’t always the only one behind. During the beading class I and the people around me were on row 4 of a 16 row pattern, and Candace called out, “Ok, 5 more minutes for this one!” Huh? So most of my swatches were never finished. I don’t even have swatches from the Estonian Lace class because I dropped more stitches there than I normally do in a month, so I gave up and played with the shawls instead.

Sometimes you just have to see the finished product.
The Fashion Show on Friday night displays pieces from the current and upcoming issues of the magazine, and from the new books coming out. I saw some sweaters, primarily the one on the cover of the Fall issue, that on the page I think, “Ick” and in real life I think, “Wow.” I’m definitely going to be examining patterns more closely and not just evaluating a garment by one picture in the future. And if you are a Knitters magazine reader, and a pattern you like says it was designed by the “Knitters Design Team,” chances are it was designed by Rick Mondragon, the magazine's editor. A member of the staff told me that in grade school Rick was crocheting Barbie clothes and selling them to the girls in his class. Definitely a man born to the fashion industry, and his enthusiasm for knitwear is infectious. He was so kind and understanding of the work that went into each garment presented during the Student Fashion Show, even some that I thought were kind of hideous. Though, I want to say, that some of the people who designed their own stuff should have book deals of their own. Amazing, beautiful, innovative things. Truly.

Knitting isn’t a craft – it’s a segment of the fashion industry.
On the final day there was a presentation on trends for '07-’08. The editors and staff of Knitters Magazine go to Paris and Italy for trade shows and window shopping to research the latest styles and materials. While most of the information seemed like it would apply for any given year, a few things were interesting. And when I picked up a copy of Vogue Knitting at Union Station later that day most of it was repeated there. Big collars (like from the ‘80s) are going to be fashionable next year, so start on those shawl collars now! (Slow knitters like me will need the extra time.) And applying crocheted pieces to finished garments, knit or not, seems to be on the horizon. Screen printing designs on finished knit pieces is in the forecast as well, but I’ll leave that to the manufacturers.

So, I can honestly say that I learned about 5 times as much as I expected to at Stitches, and I understand why everyone there is so excited and warm and devoted. If I have the money and the time I'll probably go as often as I can. It's definitely worth it.


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